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James McMurtry 'makes it' on the Jagermeister Stage



James McMurtry
7 p.m., Sunday, Jagermeister stage
Near Main Street and Porter Avenue

James McMurtry's been playing roots-rock story-songs for two decades, showcasing a deft instrumental touch that accents his sharp slices from American life. Like his father. author Larry McMurtry, he preferred narratives to love songs or political paeans, but all that offered him was critical acclaim and a cult audience before 2004's "We Can't Make It Here."

"I got it from driving around and looking at towns that were slowly disintegrating. That's America right there," he said, explaining the genesis for his devastating critique of the ills political policies have visited on working-class America.

The track trails a Vietnam vet, unemployed textile workers, thinning bar crowds and a teen worried she's pregnant noting how "billionaires get to pay less tax, the working poor get to fall through the cracks." He made it available as a free download before the 2008 election and it became an overnight sensation.

"Suddenly, we started filling clubs where we'd been playing half-houses for a while. It just takes a song that connects with people," he said. "My songs are pretty cerebral and most people don't have time to think. They got a phone bill to pay. But that one, they were already thinking that way, so it connected." "Chris Parker

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